Drop in temperatures causes a rise at shelters

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The recent drop in temperatures is causing a rise in the number of people without a home of their own to seek shelter.

FOX 43 dropped by Harrisburg's only men's shelter in the city to find out how it's preparing to help the homeless this winter.

Cold, wet weather brings many without a place to live to seek shelter at the Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg.

Mission guest Steve Beers said "to have someplace that's warm, where you can lay your head and have three square meals a day, was something that Brooklyn and I appreciated."

For Beers, and his dog Brooklyn, the journey to the mission began after Beers went on disability.

"I had to go through three denials, before I actually got it. And then once I got it, it still took months before you even saw one check. I wound up losing my house," Beers said.

Bethesda Mission director Chuck Wingate said "the homeless population has increased substantially over the last few years. We operated at over 50 percent of capacity through the summer, so with winter coming on, we're probably going to hit 100 percent over capacity before this cold season is over.

On average, it costs about $300,000 a month to run all aspects of the Bethesda mission. Besides an increase in guests, the drop in temps also has caused utility bills to rise.

"As the weather gets cold, clearly heating a building that's 30,000 square feet is going to cost a lot of money, there's hot water for showers," Wingate said.

Its why donations of food or cash are both appreciated at mission, when the weather or life takes a turn for the worse.

"We actually hired more people six weeks ago. We arranged everything, more food, more capacity, but we never turn anybody away for capacity reasons, because the streets are hazardous to life and limb," Wingate said.

"Never imagined I'd be here. I'm 46, and always worked all my life and this is the last place I'd ever think I'd be," Beers said.